Multiple Rusk County Fire Departments respond to a fire in the cafeteria at the former Gaston School

RUSK COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) – Multiple Rusk County Fire Departments responded to a fire in the cafeteria building of the former Gaston School.

The former Gaston School is located on State Highway 64 in Rusk County.

Michael Searcy of the Rusk County Emergency Management Office said the Henderson Fire Department and the New London and Carlisle Volunteer Fire Departments responded to the blaze around 12:15 p.m. Sunday.

“When they got to the scene, they found heavy fire coming from the roof at the back of the cafeteria building,” Searcy told KLTV’s Bob Hallmark. “They made a quick fire attack and they put out the fire. Currently we are in a clean up situation to ensure we have fully extinguished the fire. »

Searcy said firefighters are locating “hot spots” and hose them down.

The Rusk County OEM spokesperson said that while the buildings at Gaston School were made from sturdy materials, other, less sturdy materials have been added over the years. He added that this could create a potential hazard for firefighters, as the weight of refrigeration units could cause fire-damaged wooden roofs to collapse.

A fire destroyed the Gaston School gymnasium building in September 2021, according to a previous East Texas News article.

Searcy said there were suspicious circumstances associated with the previous fire at the old Gaston School. He said the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office have been investigating since last September, adding that while they have leads, they haven’t identified any suspects.

“That being said, we will be paying extra attention to this fire,” Searcy said. “Now that we have a County Fire Marshal, he will work with the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office and the State Fire Marshal’s Office.”

At that time, Patrick Dooley, assistant emergency management coordinator for the Rusk County Office of Emergency Management, said when firefighters arrived at the scene on September 26, 2021, they found the building of the gymnasium completely engulfed in flames.

By the time the fires were fully extinguished around 7 a.m. that morning, the gymnasium building was a total loss, but the other buildings were largely spared any significant damage, Dooley said. The buildings are owned by Church Fellowship International, although Dooley said he does not believe the church currently uses the gymnasium.

Previous story: The gymnasium of the former Gaston school destroyed in a fire early Sunday

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